The UK Parliament’s All-party Parliamentary Group for Vaping (APPG) has heard from a select group of experts on the subject of vaping, harm reduction, and the World Health Organization’s forthcoming international summit. Participants included the Director General of the UK Vaping Industry Association (UKVIA), Professor Gerry Stimson, Clive Bates and Daniel Pryor.
The APPG for Vaping is a collection of MPs and Peers who focus on e-cigarettes and collect information. What they find out is then used to put recommendations forward to the government. Current APPG members include Mark Pawsey, Sir Kevin Barron, Viscount Ridley, Mary Glindon, Gareth Johnson, Scott Mann and Glyn Davies.
UKVIA’s John Dunne was called as an expert witness to speak about the future of vaping and tobacco harm reduction. His evidence is going to be used to advise the UK delegation to the World Health Organization’s Conference of the Parties (COP9) meeting later this year. The meeting will have ramifications for the vape industry, vapers and smokers around the world.
The UK’s progressive approach is world-leading and has achieved record drops in smoking rates. Despite having the policy to support harm reduction, the World Health Organization has been very problematic for vaping and its public statements rarely rely on the positive independent evidence from here.
The evidence session was conducted online due to concern over the current COVID-19 pandemic. Speaking remotely, Dunne told politicians: “The UK has a huge duty of care to take a positive stance and challenge interpretations… Britain’s newly independent status really gives us an opportunity to lead this on the world stage.”
The APPG has expressed a desire for the UK to take a stronger role in future meetings and defend its position on vaping to an international audience. They feel it is important we as a country promote the many successes of British vaping.
The expert witnesses highlighted the considerable public health benefits of harm reduction tools, and the potential benefit they could provide around the world.
The evidence session came as the UK Government continues its own review of tobacco regulations, meaning a busy time for advocates hoping to protect the public potential of vaping.
Reacting to a very positive session with the parliamentarians, Dunne said: “I was happy to accept the invitation from the APPG because the UKVIA believe we have an incredible opportunity to spread the word – that innovative, appropriately-regulated vaping industries save lives. Post-Brexit Britain is newly independent in forums like COP9, and it means we can drive this positive message home like never before.
“We can be rightly proud of the UK’s record on harm reduction, but we must not be complacent. Regressive, prohibition-style strategies are alive and well internationally, and we must not let them undo all that has been achieved here. A robust, evidence-based approach from the UK can defend the gains we have made domestically, empower positive change internationally and confirm Britain’s role as a world leader in harm reduction.”